The Dirty Picture

Vidya Balan is Silk, and Silk is entertainment

The Dirty Picture; Source: Wikipedia

“Silk is the only hero in this industry”, says a film journalist in The Dirty Picture and after watching the film, I can also say, Vidya Balan is the only hero in the Hindi film industry. Not because she has ‘dared to bare’ but the conviction with which she’s played the character of Silk – a dancing star from the eighties who knows her sexuality is her biggest strength. While most actors claim to prepare for their roles, there is rarely a performance where an actor completely lets go of any inhibitions and becomes the character on screen. This is where Vidya wins; she looks good, she looks fat, she looks ugly, but she looks and behaves like the charater, Silk in the film.

Apart from Vidya, The Dirty Picture works because of its entertainment factor and Rajat Arora’s sassy writing plays a major role. The dialogues are provocative, shocking and dirty, true to the film’s name. Director, Milan Luthria packs a punch in the first half; however the film goes downward like the lead character’s career in the second half. It starts with a village girl, Reshma (Balan) coming to Madras with big dreams. She struggles, sleeps hungry and almost gives up, till someone offers her Rs. 20 to sleep with him. Her life changes, she gets a big break and the attention of the reigning superstar, Suryakant (Naseeruddin Shah). Silk’s journey to the heights of stardom is extremely entertaining and engaging where two other men appear in her life; Ramakant (Tusshar sans Kapoor), an upcoming writer in awe of her persona and Abraham (Emraan Hashmi), a director who hates Silk and what she stands for. The film soars in the first hour and a half but the last hour is poorly executed as suddenly you feel disconnected from Silk while you’re supposed to empathise with her.

Naseeruddin Shah once again delivers a spectacular performance as a manipulative and selfish star, for whom, women are just objects to entertain. He also has the best lines in the film and manages to match up to Vidya’s pizzazz in an elaborate dance number with kitschy costumes, over the top sets and raunchy moves. The song, ‘Ooh La La…’ is the film’s highlight (Vishal Shekhar – music composers); Bappi Lahiri and Shreya Ghoshal capture the mood perfectly with their vocals and lyrics by Rajat Arora. The other song that works is ‘Nakka Mukka’, which is borrowed (legally) from a Tamil film; it has a catchy beat and helps showcase Silk’sbombaat’ attitude at various intervals during the film. The rest of the soundtrack is nothing great. Coming back to the actors, Emraan Hashmi does a fairly decent job and proves that he can be taken seriously as an actor now. Tusshar tries hard but fades in front of Vidya and Naseer’s powerhouse performances.

The film’s costume designer, Niharika Khan deserves a special mention for capturing the tackiness and razzmatazz of that era and the characters. There is a lot of cleavage on show but I guess that’s another reason the makers (producer, Ekta Kapoor) chose Vidya as the leading lady – her traditional and family oriented off-screen image helped keep the focus on the character and not on the sleaze.

The Dirty Picture is a brave film and shows how Indian filmmakers and the censors have grown – a heroine centric film can be commercially successful and Indians can handle bold subject matter. Go watch the film for three things, as clearly articulated by Silk“entertainment, entertainment and entertainment”.

My rating: * * * ½ three and a half on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

 

Good intentions may not result in a good film

Pic: Ashutosh Gowarikar Productions

Lagaan’s Bhuvan, Swades’ Mohan Bhargava, Jodhaa and Akbar are some of the most memorable characters seen in the Indian cinema in the last decade. All these characters were created and brought alive by the same man, Ashutosh Gowarikar who became one of the most sought after filmmakers because of these characters and films. This is where the director fails with his latest offering, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (KHJJS). The film’s screenplay is adapted by Gowarikar himself from the book, ‘Do and Die’ by Manini Chatterjee, which is based on the Chittagong (in Bengal) Uprising of 1930. KHJJS presents the facts and happenings that led to the historical incident and what happened after that. In trying to cover these events with so many characters, the filmmaker does not focus on a few leading ones and as a result you do not connect with any as a viewer. It is not that he does not set the context but he tries to do that with all the characters and there are over twenty-five of them.

If Surjya Sen (Abhishek Bachchan) is the central character, then very little time is spent on building his story; it is revealed in the beginning that he is the leader of a freedom fighters’ group but in the rest of the film he just appears in between the sequences passing orders or looking somber. Kalpana Dutta (Deepika Padukone) is another revolutionary but again it seems that the director forgets about her in the middle of the film. If only some time was spent on developing these two characters, probably one would have related to them more. What kind of people were they; were they angry or scared or hurt at different occasions; all that is left to the viewers to decide. The uprising began with a group of sixteen teenagers approaching Surjya Sen to help them get their play-ground back, which the British soldiers had taken over. They want the freedom to play and in the bargain willing to help free Chittagong and the country. The first half of the film is all about introducing all these characters and them getting ready for the attacks on British establishments; the second half focuses on the attack and then what happens to each of the characters. Despite the two-hour fifty-five minute running time, the film does not do justice to any of them and makes for a tedious watch.   The good thing about the film is that not many people were aware of the Chittagong uprising and it has helped create that awareness; however as an entertainer the film does not work.

Performance wise, Abhishek and Deepika are very average and from the rest of the grown up supporting cast, only Vishakha Singh who plays Pritilata shines; Sikander Kher as Nirmal Sen is also fine except he doesn’t have many impactful scenes. The teenagers are very good and are the only ones you feel connected to, more because of their innocent motive and age.

Music by Sohail Sen is not very memorable and the only song you remember is the title track as that got played in the promos all the time. In the technical department also you do not see anything spectacular, cinematography is fine (Kiran Deohans) while editing is abrupt at times (Dilip Deo). Neeta Lulla’s costumes seem sponsored by a washing powder brand as they are very clean and white for the most part. Imagine a group of teenagers playing football and their dhotis stay absolutely white! However, in one scene you can notice a deliberate ink stain on Abhishek’s kurta as he is shown writing on his desk. The only thing that comes to your mind is, “Daag acche hain”. The dialogues are in flawless Hindi with the actors using a few odd Bengali words here and there and pronouncing ‘a’ as ‘o’ while taking names. Of course the film could not have been in Bengali keeping in mind the commercial aspect but at least their manner of speaking Hindi could have been adopted well. Maybe they really spoke good Hindi back then but am not aware so would not comment any further.

KHJJS is not what I’d like to remember Gowarikar for and like his last year’s disastrous film, What’s Your Rashee? I’d like to forget this one also.  I hope the director of Oscar nominated Lagaan comes back with a film worthy of this tag.

My rating: * * ½ Two and a half stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal